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BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012: the Bitter End Cup won by Dufour 405 sailing yacht Team Trolly Car

March 30, 2012

Racing finally started yesterday for the BVI Sailing Festival with a 30 mile race around the fabulous Caribbean island of Virgin Gorda. A 15-knot easterly breeze with flat water offered awesome sailing conditions to the sailors.

Champagne sailing for BVI Sailing Festival competitors racing round Virgin Gorda for the Bitter End Cup Credit: BVI Yacht Shots/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Champagne sailing for BVI Sailing Festival competitors racing round Virgin Gorda for the Bitter End Cup Credit: BVI Yacht Shots/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

First away was Peter Aschenbrenner’s 63ft Trimaran yacht Paradox with round the world legend Cam Lewis on board calling tactics. The ballistic multihull was first to finish by some distance, completing the course in an elapsed time of three hours, nine minutes and six seconds, just 13 minutes shy of the course record set by Swan 82 charter yacht Virago.

Paradox owner, Peter Aschenbrenner comes from San Francisco but he has an international crew on board from America, Britain and France. “We sail just six up, as Paradox has power assisted winches and hydraulic systems,” commented Aschenbrenner. “This is my first trimaran but I have been sailing skiffs for a while. I knew the designer Nigel Irens as a friend and I love asymmetric sailing and going fast! It would be nice to see other trimarans come here for the Festival. There are many multihulls in the Caribbean and the BVI is such a great place to come sailing. Today, I especially enjoyed the reach past Necker Island, really enjoyable, fantastic sailing.”

Line honours for Peter Aschenbrenner's 63ft Trimaran in the Round Virgin Gorda Race today  Credit: BVI Yacht Shots/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Line honours for Peter Aschenbrenner's 63ft Trimaran yacht in the Round Virgin Gorda Race Credit: BVI Yacht Shots/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Neil Harvey’s Dufour 425 yacht Acadia led the bareboat fleet from start to finish. In a highly competitive start, Acadia took a port flyer and crossed the entire flotilla. Once in clear air their advantage was magnified by a lift onto starboard tack and Acadia looked to have got away to a winning lead but were destined not to even make the top three.

Dufour 405 sailing yacht Team Trolly Car sailed by Bill Petersen and Peter Stazicker corrected out to win by just over two minutes from Leonard Nekeman’s Lucky Dutch, (who were spotted in the Bitter End grocery store purchasing a case of Heineken prior to the race!). Timen van Elst’s Sunsail 44i BK, Grondlogistiek was third by just 24 seconds.

In the Cruising Class, Stephen Schmidt’s Santa Cruz 70 yacht Hotel California Too, put in an impressive performance to take monohull line honours. But there was a long wait to decide the winner of the Cruising Division on handicap. Alain Fougere’s J/160 Avatar yacht corrected out to win the class but had to wait close to an hour to be sure of the win. Thomas Mullen’s J/95 Shamrock VII was a desperately close second by just a minute with Hotel California Too in third.

Last year's BVI Spring Regatta Winners, Antilope has top Dutch sailor on board, Bouwe Bekking Credit: BVI Yacht Shots

Last year's BVI Spring Regatta Winners, Antilope yacht has top Dutch sailor on board, Bouwe Bekking Credit: BVI Yacht Shots

The Racing Class start was an intense affair. A dog-fight kicked off between several boats in the starting sequence. Molto Bene was called back on an individual recall but returned to start correctly. Stefan Lehnert’s Tripp 57 yacht Passion 4C made a conservative start but got away well. Notably Passion 4C held their genoa through the lee of Prickly Island and stayed high rather than going for an early hoist. Michael Shlens’ Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade went for an earlier spinnaker and looked to have caught a hyper-gust, which knocked them sideways. Global Yacht Racing’s First 44.7, skippered by Marcus Chollerton-Brown put in an impressive performance to finish fourth in the Racing Class. Especially as this was the first time the team from the Manhattan Yacht Club had ever raced the yacht.

The Prize Giving at The Crawl Pub, Bitter End was a lively affair thanks to Gold Sponsors, Heineken and Mount Gay Rum. John Glenn, VP of sales and marketing for the Bitter End Yacht Club announced the winners and thanked the competitors for coming to what has been a very enjoyable stay in the out of this world surroundings of the North Sound.

The overall winner of The Bitter End Cup was awarded to Team Trolly Car. Much to the delight of Donna Jo Petersen, who was also celebrating her birthday on board. “It has just been a fantastic day, the guys worked so hard and we had a tremendous battle with Acadia but to win on my birthday with my son, husband and old friends on board was a dream come true, it just doesn’t get better than that.”

Christian and Lucy Reynolds, Swan 51, Northern Child Credit:  BVI Yacht Shots

Christian and Lucy Reynolds, Swan 51 sailing yacht Northern Child Credit: BVI Yacht Shots

Racing concludes today with the Nanny Cay Cup, the first warning will sound at 1000 and a prize giving will be held at the Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola.

Italy’s top commercial television network to broadcast 10 hours live racing from Naples America´s Cup World Series

March 29, 2012

Italy‘s top commercial television network Mediaset has signed a contract to carry up to 10 hours of live television coverage throughout Italy of the highly anticipated America’s Cup World Series races, taking place from April 11 to 15 in Naples.

America´s Cup World Series 2011

America´s Cup World Series 2011

Mediaset SpA., known as Gruppo Mediaset in Italy, through its Italia 1 and Italia 2 channels, will showcase the international Naples races with live, free-to-air coverage.

“Italian fans are the most passionate in the world and we are bringing them 10 hours of live coverage of this exciting sport, staged in one of the most historically important and beautiful cities in Italy,” said Luca Tiraboschi, Director of Italia 1 and Mediaset Italia 2.

The new look America’s Cup broadcasts put the spotlight on the sailors, with on-board cameras and microphones, and Liveline technology that overlays virtual graphics on the live television pictures, giving viewers more information than ever before.

Mediaset joins a group of leading broadcasters that already includes NBC in the United States, TVNZ in New Zealand, Sky Sports in the UK, Canal+ in France and Viasat in Scandinavia, among others. Similar to Mediaset, Sky Sports in the UK has scheduled up to 10 hours of live coverage from the AC World Series Naples.

The Naples event features 11 yachts with 9 different teams from 8 countries, including: Luna Rossa Challenge, Italy (Skipper Max Sirena), Two Boats – (two helmsmen TBA on April 4); Aleph, France (Skipper TBA); Artemis Racing, Sweden (Skipper Terry Hutchinson); China Team, China (Skipper TBA in China March 30); Emirates Team New Zealand, New Zealand (Skipper Dean Barker); Energy Team, France (Helmsmen Loick Peyron/Yann Guichard); Green Comm Racing, Spain (Skipper Vasilij Zbogar); ORACLE Racing, USA – Two Boats – Skippers Jimmy Spithill and Darren Bundock; and, Team Korea, Korea (Skipper Nathan Outteridge).

Currently leading the 2011/2012 America’s Cup World Series overall standings is Emirates Team New Zealand skippered by Dean Barker, who come into the Naples event leading by just 1 point from ORACLE Racing Spithill.

But the competition is getting stronger. In Naples, Luna Rossa will join the America’s Cup line-up again with two boats entered, reviving a presence in the America’s Cup which dates back to 1999.

“I think Luna Rossa might be considered the favorite in Italy,” commented Jimmy Spithill, the ORACLE Racing skipper, mounting pressure on the newcomers to perform on home waters. “To be honest, I would not be surprised if they were to win. They are in their home country with two of the best helmsmen in these boats.”

Mediaset will also provide live coverage of the AC World Series in Venice (May) and Newport, Rhode Island (June).

BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012: The first day´s racing called off

March 28, 2012

There was no racing yesterday, on the first day of the BVI Sailing Festival. Principal Race Officer, Dave Brennan postponed the start of the race to Bitter End and indicated to the 48 racing yachts in the starting area to head for Virgin Gorda, to find out if the situation would get better. In the vicinity of Ginger Island, there were some signs of a stable wind developing, but it was short lived and competing for the day was cancelled shortly after 1100.

A windless day at Nanny Cay for the first day of racing in the prelude to the BVI Spring Regatta Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

A windless day at Nanny Cay for the first day of racing in the prelude to the BVI Spring Regatta Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

“Unfortunately the wind has not materialized and there will be no racing today.” Commented Dave Brennan, Principal Race Officer: “The important thing is now to make sure the fleet gets to the Bitter End Yacht Club as every indicator available to us is forecasting that there will be no wind today. However, tomorrow is looking far more promising with possibly 15 knots of breeze, so we hope to get the racing started then, perhaps with a race around Virgin Gorda for the Bitter End Cup.”

Hoping for breeze on day one of the Sailing Festival from Nanny Cay to Bitter End Yacht Club Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Hoping for breeze on day one of the Sailing Festival from Nanny Cay to Bitter End Yacht Club Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Yesterday, the fleet could enjoy a race around Virgin Gorda which will result in some spectacular scenery. Notably, The Baths located on the southern end of the island, these unusual geologic formations echo the island’s volcanic origins, as huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea.

Regatta bow stickers are carefully applied. Ready to race!  Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Regatta bow stickers are carefully applied. Ready to race! Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

With an early arrival at the Bitter End Yacht Club, competitors will be able to take advantage of some fabulous facilities, including all manner of aquatic sports, restaurants and beach bars. Many local sailors consider the North Sound as the most picturesque area of the British Virgin Islands. Yesterday’s awards party was obviously not possible so the limbo jump-up at Almond Walk and adjacent beach will be the first competition of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival!

Farr 400 leaves the dock for the race up to Bitter End Yacht Club  Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Farr 400 leaves the dock for the race up to Bitter End Yacht Club Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Back at Nanny Cay, crews competing in the ISAF sanctioned Grade 3 match racing event sponsored by GILL arrived throughout the day and completed registration for the two day event. If the wind plays ball, exciting duels are expected between the IC24’s on tight windward leeward courses with expert race commentary by Denise Holmberg. Eight teams will compete on courses close to the shore so spectators can watch the drama unfold from the beach at Nanny Cay.

Agreement to host the America´s Cup 2013 in San Francisco approved

March 28, 2012

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today approved the agreement to welcome the America’s Cup in San Francisco from September 7 to 22, 2013.

San Francisco Approves America’s Cup Race for September 2013 Credit Gilled Martin RagetACEA

San Francisco Approves America’s Cup Race for September 2013 - Credit: Gilled Martin-Raget/ACEA

One of the most fiercely competitive and sought after trophies in all of sport, the America’s Cup, was first raced in 1851 around the Isle of Wight, 45 years before the modern Olympics. The U.S. yacht America won, giving the international sailing competition its name.

At the first race, Queen Victoria, who was watching at the finish line, asked who was second to America. The famous answer, “Your Majesty, there is no second.”

The 2013 race will be the first time the competition for the “Auld Mug” will be held in San Francisco, a perfect natural sailing arena where more than one million spectators will see the 34th edition of the America’s Cup.

The San Francisco agreement calls for teams to be based at Piers 30/32 and for the America’s Cup Village – the public Race Headquarters – at Piers 27/29.  The pier improvements will be funded by the Port.

“We have worked very hard to bring this historic race to San Francisco and we’re very happy to have finally reached an agreement,” said Stephen Barclay, interim CEO of the America’s Cup. “Now we are focused on making this the most spectacular race in America’s Cup history.”

“We are thrilled that, in addition to the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America’s Cup racing in 2013, that the America’s Cup World Series will also take place in San Francisco in 2012,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “This will add even more visitors, jobs and economic development as part of hosting one of the world’s premier sporting events.”

The inclusion of Piers 30/32 as the “pit row” for the teams in close proximity to the America’s Cup Village at Piers 27/29 will make the event’s footprint more compact and will benefit the teams as well as the general public.  Racing will be visible from the shoreline – only minutes from downtown shopping and hotels, making this the most spectator-friendly event in the Cup’s 162-year history.

The dates for this year’s (2012) racing for the America’s Cup World Series, the global circuit of events leading up to the 2013 America’s Cup regatta in San Francisco, were also confirmed today:
– AC World Series Naples, Italy – April 11-15, 2012
– AC World Series Venice, Italy – May 15-20, 2012
– AC World Series Newport, USA – June 26 – July 1, 2012
– AC World Series San Francisco, USA – August 21-26, 2012
– AC World Series San Francisco, USA – October 4-7, 2012.

Each event will be a combination of practice and championship racing, with additional practice sailing on-site ahead of each event.

Racing for the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, will take place in July and August, 2013. The America’s Cup Match (finals), pitting the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup against defending champion ORACLE Racing – Team USA, commences Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 and is a first to win five-race series.

America’s Cup racing in 2012 and 2013 will be televised internationally, and for the first time in more than 20 years it will be broadcast free-to-air in the U.S. by the NBC network.

This unprecedented broadcast coverage is a reflection of the exciting venue, the technologically-advanced yachts, the Emmy-nominated fan-friendly advances in the television production, and the sheer physical and tactical challenge presented to the world’s best sailors by the yachts, format and venue.

Before the end of 2013 the America’s Cup is expected to have generated more than $1 billion in economic benefits for San Francisco, and create several thousand jobs.

Major sponsors include some of the world’s top brands: Louis Vuitton, PUMA, Prada, Emirates Airline, TAG Heuer, and Oracle.

About the 34th America’s Cup, San Francisco 2013
The racing will be held in San Francisco Bay between the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, up and down the City front. The Bay – a natural sailing arena – produces spectacular racing conditions with reliably strong winds, putting shoreside spectators at the heart of the action. Teams will race technologically-advanced 72-foot catamarans with 13-story wing-sails that will propel the yachts at upwards to 50 miles per hour.

Leading up to the 2013 America’s Cup, the America’s Cup World Series is a series of events, bringing America’s Cup style racing to top venues around the world. In 2012 the America’s Cup World Series will feature five events: Naples (April 11-15), Venice (May 15-20), Newport, RI (June 26 – July 1), and two in San Francisco (August 21-26 and October 4-7).

The America’s Cup World Series provides the teams and their sailors an opportunity to prepare for the America’s Cup Challenger Series for the Louis Vuitton Cup that will be held in San Francisco during July and August of 2013, and which will determine the sole challenger in the America’s Cup Match (finals) against ORACLE Racing – Team USA, the defending America’s Cup champion. The final Match will be held in San Francisco September 7-22, 2013.

Sailing yacht Georgia to compete in the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012

March 28, 2012

After beating Australia’s best in the Grand Prix Division at Geelong’s Festival of Sails, kiwis Jim Farmer as well as Chris Meads are now strongly concentrated on Australia’s largest keelboat regatta, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012.

SAILING  - Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2011 - Calm and Georgia - Photo Andrea Francolini

SAILING - Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2011 - yachts Calm and Georgia - Photo Andrea Francolini

Farmer, an Auckland-based Queens Counsel and highly successful ocean racing yachtsman, is very much a Race Week enthusiast, something all too evident when he lodged the entry for their yacht, the impressive 52ft sailing yacht Georgia, five months before the start of racing in August.

Georgia yacht was the 25th entry in a fleet that is expected to be near 200 when entries close in early August, and while hers is the first to be lodged for the Grand Prix IRC Division, the Cruising Yacht class is showing the way with 19 nominations at this early stage. The entry list is expected to grow into the 30s this week, a number that is satisfyingly more than at the same time in the lead up to last year’s regatta.

Georgia yacht was so dominant at Geelong that she did not need to start in the final race to claim the Grand Prix title in an event dominated by 52-footers. She won by 12 points from Jason Van Der Slot’s Calm on 21 points and Rob Hanna’s much touted, Shogun V, which was third on 24 points.

Farmer and Mead decided to modify their yacht following a disappointing fifth place overall at last year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. After consulting with designers involved with New Zealand’s 2013 America’s Cup campaign they fitted a deeper and more efficient keel, and headsails made using the very latest technology.

These changes have taken Georgia into a new league when it comes to performance, so much so that she could well be the boat to beat in the Audi IRC Australian Championship, which will be part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012.

The sailing and party agendas being developed for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 promise to take what is Australia’s most awarded regatta to an even higher level of satisfaction on all fronts.

Noteworthy sailors present at BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012

March 27, 2012

The BVI Regatta & Sailing Festival is famous for amazing sailing conditions, hot racing as well as a friendly atmosphere which attracts plenty of competitors with impressive sailing backgrounds. Registration for the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival opened at noon today and a steady stream of important sailors were enjoying a cold drink at the Regatta Beach Bar at Nanny Cay.

Team Trolly Car Credit Louay HabibBVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Team Trolly Car Credit: Louay Habib/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Team Trolly Car, a MarineMax 413 racing in the Bareboat Class aptly captures the true spirit of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. The team is co-skippered by Peter Stazicker and Bill Petersen: “We have come here all the way from California and our main goal is to have as much fun as possible, but I have to say we do have some excellent sailors on board,” admitted Peter Stazicker. “Bill Petersen is a past Commodore of California Yacht Club and was also the mainsheet trimmer for Stars & Stripes in the victorious 1987 America’s Cup. His son, Willy Petersen has graduated from the University of Hawaii, where he was a prominent member of the sailing team. Of course we want to do well but above all we want to have a good time, that is the reason for coming to the British Virgin Islands.”

Skipper of the First 47.7, Global Yacht Racing/EHO1, Marcus Chollerton-Brown will be racing with a team from the Manhattan Yacht Club: “The crew all work in New York but we are a variety of nationalities: British, American, Dutch, Swedish and French. This will be the first time that we have raced together as a team and we hope to be competitive especially in the Spring Regatta, once we have got to know the boat a little better.”

Marcus Chollerton-Brown, Skipper of Global Yacht RacingEHO1

Marcus Chollerton-Brown, Skipper of Global Yacht Racing/EHO1 Credit: Louay Habib/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Back in Manhattan, Marcus skipper’s the magnificent 12 Metre, America II and skippered Clipper Qingdao in the 2007-08 Round the World Race.

Mike Caldwell, boat captain of El Ocaso was enjoying a cold beer waiting to check through Customs and Immigration: “We had a great sail here from St.Martin although the team actually come from Florida. I’m waiting for the rest of the guys to arrive to unload the boat, so it’s a great opportunity to catch up with some of the other teams. There are so many good friends here and it’s one of the reasons we enjoy this regatta so much. Besides the sailing, it’s a really friendly regatta.”

Lucy Reynolds (Northern Child, Swan 51) and Mike Caldwell (El Ocaso)Credit Louay HabibBVI Spring Regatta & S

Lucy Reynolds (Northern Child, Swan 51) and Mike Caldwell (El Ocaso) Credit: Louay Habib/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Tonight’s opening party hosted by Peg Legs Restaurant should be a lively affair especially with the assistance of regatta sponsor, Mount Gay Rum. The party kicks off at 5:30 pm just as the sun will be dipping down into the Sir Francis Drake Channel.

The first warning signal for the Bitter End Cup Race to Virgin Gorda will sound at 1000am tomorrow, marking the start of racing for the 2012 BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival.

International Rolex Regatta 2012: Nice and Close

March 26, 2012

It came down to the wire on the last day for winners in three of six classes at the International Rolex Regatta, which kicked off on Friday and hosted 68 yachts as well as more than 500 sailors representing the USA, Great Britain, Puerto Rico, Canada, The Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Sweden, Monaco and multiple Caribbean islands.

Fleet sailing last day's Pillsbury Sound courses Photo by Roley Ingrid Abery

Fleet sailing last day's Pillsbury Sound courses - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

The event, in its 39th year and hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club in the USVI, is the oldest regatta in Rolex’s portfolio of global sailing events, and is considered the “Crown Jewel” of Caribbean regattas.

Today’s tactically demanding Pillsbury Sound races, with courses that wound through the cays of St. Thomas and St. John, decided winners in one IRC and three CSA classes as well as a Beach Cat class, while one-design IC 24s completed six short-course races in Jersey Bay to determine that class’s victor. The races were sailed in picture-perfect conditions, which included plenty of sunshine and 15-knot breezes, which made the overcast skies and intermittent rain showers that prevailed over the last two days but a distant memory.

Peter Cunningham’s (George Town, CAY) 52-foot PowerPlay took overall victory in IRC, where nine boats were competing, and won a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Chronometer as a prize for its excellent performance. The team’s main competition was Willem Wester’s (Breskens, Zeeland, NED) Grand Soleil 46 Antilope (steered by Belgian Olympian Philippe Bergmans) and Ashley Wolfe’s (Alberta, Canada) IRC 52 Mayhem, which finished second and third, respectively.

IRC winner POWERPLAY yacht Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

IRC winner POWERPLAY yacht - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

“We were head-to-head with Mayhem the whole regatta, which made it exciting,” said Cunningham, noting that Mayhem’s disqualification in the second race of the series (for a pre-start infraction) and the dismasting of Lord Irvine Laidlaw of Rothiemay’s (MON) IRC 52 Highland Fling XII were unfortunate. “We lost the first race today by one second to Mayhem and Antilope (who corrected out equally and posted 1.5 points each) to finished third. The sailing is so interesting here; you can’t relax even one second or it’s the difference between first and second.”

Volvo Ocean Race veteran Bouwe Bekking (NED), tactician aboard Antilope, was pleased with second, especially since Antilope is a heavier displacement boat than the others, and he conceded that the story might have been different had Mayhem not shown a DSQ in her score line. “They would have had a second in that race, so you can count back and see that they would have done that much better,” said Bekking, “but that’s yacht racing.”

The competition today was unusually close in CSA 1, where Andrea Scarabelli’s (Cole Bay, St. Maarten) Melges 24 Budget Marine/GILL managed to maintain the lead it had established on day one and kept yesterday. It was by a mere half point in final regatta standings, however, that the team prevailed over Magnitude 400, a Farr 400 owned and skippered by Doug Baker (Long Beach, Calif.). The battle of the 40 footers, of which there were four in this class, had been billed as one to watch, but it quickly became clear that the Melges 24 came prepared to win.

The first day, Budget Marine/Gill posted two victories in the “town races” that featured plenty of downwind sailing. “This was good for us,” said the team’s tactician Christopher Marshall, “but the second day had lots of upwind sailing and that’s when it paid off for the bigger boats (Magnitude 400 won both races.). Then today was a mixed bag.”

Yachts SMILE AND WAVE and LAZY DOG battled for second and third in CSA 2, respectively Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

Yachts SMILE AND WAVE and LAZY DOG battled for second and third in CSA 2, respectively - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

The half-point difference in the final scores was a result of Budget Marine/GILL’s third-place finish in today’s first race with the exact same corrected time as a second Farr 400 from California, Blade, so each boat was given 3.5 points as an average for third and fourth places (per the racing rules). “In the first start we were over early, so we had to come back and lost at least 30 seconds,” said Scarabelli, who drove. “Everyone was in a bit of a bad mood after that, because if it had not been for that, we would have probably been in second (for that race). We knew we had to do our best in the next race and maybe it would be impossible to win—that we could lose the Rolex regatta because of a half a point.” The team posted a third in the second race to Magnitude 400’s fifth, and that proved to be the combination that would give Budget Marine/GILL the final say and the coveted Rolex watch as prize.

Also winning by a mere half point today in CSA 2 was Jonathan Lipuscek’s (San Juan, PR) J/105 Dark Star. Lipuscek had gone into today’s races with a half-point advantage on the merit of two bullets posted yesterday, and he posted a 2-3 today to prevail over Jaime Torres’s (also San Juan) Beneteau First 40 Smile and Wave, also winning the a Rolex watch for his performance. Making it a triumvirate of Puerto Rican teams on the podium was Sergio Sagramoso’s (San Juan) J/122 Lazy Dog, in third, also with only a half point separating it from Smile and Wave. The three teams had been locked in battle for the entire regatta.

“We simply tried to minimize errors and do everything with patience,” said Lipuscek at the Rolex Awards party, which was held on the St. Thomas Yacht Club’s beach and featured a giant stage built out over the water. (It had been used on Saturday, as well, for the regatta’s headlining Reggae Concert.) “It’s incredible that we’ve won the watch; I didn’t believe it until now.”

Puerto Rican teams also finished top-three in IC 24s, which sported the largest fleet here with 15 boats. Dominating was Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo (Ponce), onboard Orion, who counts this as his ninth time to win a Rolex watch here. He passed the watch on to his foredeck crew Pablo Mendez and said that a full rotation has now been made as far as his crew getting to proudly share in the spoils of victory. “It’s experience in the boat,” said Fraito when asked what his secret to success was. “Pablo has been sailing with me since 2002, and my tactician and trimmer have been with me 18 years. It feels so good to win; we lost this regatta last year, so we came back this year very aggressive.”

International Rolex Regatta 2012: Checks and Balances

March 26, 2012

A second day of competing for 68 yachts at the International Rolex Regatta 2012 revealed the coastal beauty of St. Thomas and St. John islands with IRC as well as CSA distance courses that meandered through the smaller islands and cays situated between them.

California entry MAGNITUDE 400 in CSA 1 Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

California entry MAGNITUDE 400 in CSA 1 - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

Winds of 12-18 knots collaborated to give those classes (four in all) two races, while the one-design IC 24s and Beach Cats pounded out six buoy races on the more sheltered yet still tactically demanding playing field of Great Bay, just around the corner from the event’s host, St. Thomas Yacht Club.

In CSA 1, Andrea Scarabelli (Cole Bay, St. Maarten) hung on to first today by sailing his Melges 24 Budget Marine/GILL to finish positions of 2-4 to post eight points to Magnitude 400’s nine in overall scoring. The latter boat, a Farr 400 skippered by Doug Baker (Long Beach, Calif.), won both races today and is 16 feet longer than the Melges, so it rarely finds itself in close proximity to it on the race course.

“We don’t race against them really,” said Magnitude’s tactician Chad Hough (also Long Beach), explaining that his team, which includes Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Eric Doyle, is more concerned about beating the other similarly rated 40-footers in the class but still wants to win in the end. “We won both starts today, so we got control of the shifts, but the Melges 24 is much lighter for its weight ratio and could take better advantage of today’s planing conditions.”

California entry MAGNITUDE 400 in CSA 1 Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

California entry MAGNITUDE 400 in CSA 1 - Photo by Rolex /Ingrid Abery

As for Scarabelli, he knows that the team’s close striking distance is something of which to be wary. “Everything will be decided tomorrow,” he said, “but so far, we are happy with our performance both against the other Melges 24 (Henry Leonnig’s BVI entry Firewater, in fourth) and the 40 footers.”

Saturday’s leader in CSA 2, Jaime Torres’s (San Juan, PR) Beneteau First 40 Smile and Wave, fell to second today while Jonathan Lipuscek (also San Juan) climbed to the top of the scoreboard (from third on Saturday) with two bullets on Sunday on Dark Star. In an unusual scoring situation, Torres is only a half point out of first; in Sunday’s first race he corrected out exactly even with the J/80 Otracosa for fourth place, so each boat was given 4.5 points (halfway between fourth and fifth) and he posts 9.5 points to Dark Star’s 9 while Sergio Sagramoso’s J/122 Lazy Dog, another Puerto Rican entry, is one point behind that in third.

Sailing yacht DECISION Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

Sailing yacht DECISION - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

“We had to work so hard (for our positions) today compared to yesterday,” said Torres, who won this event in 1976 sailing with his father. “Today’s first race had lots of reaching legs, which favored the boats with asymmetrical spinnakers like Dark Star, Lazy Dog and Otracosa, but we sailed upwind really well, and we had good starts, which is where we’ve made the greatest strides as a team.”

Anthony Katoun (Newport, R.I.), a crew member on Peter Cunningham’s (George Town, CAY) 52-foot PowerPlay described yesterday as a “day of attrition” in the IRC class, with Ashley Wolfe’s (Alberta, Canada) Mayhem being disqualified (for infractions prior to the start of Race 2) and Lord Irvine Laidlaw of Rothiemay’s (MON) IRC 52 Highland Fling XII being dismasted.

“We’re just trying to keep our noses clean out there,” he said before racing on Sunday, and that they did with a 1-2 that increased the team’s lead to six points over Willem Wester’s (Breskens, Zeeland, NED) Antilope. “Since Antilope is more of a cruising design, we figure if we get a few hot angles for planing, we can beat them,” added Katoun, “and today’s courses suited us well for that.”

Six races in the IC 24 class saw Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo (Ponce), onboard Orion, rise to the top of the scoreboard with 34 points, with Frits Bus/Chuck Pessler’s (St. Thomas) Team Coors Light trailing in second with 41 points. Yesterday’s leader Carlos Sierra (Guaynabo, PR) aboard Banana Boat/Fuataka has 47 points, and with six races scheduled for today it’s anyone’s game, although Fraito has won a Rolex watch here eight times.

Sailing yacht KARUBA 5 Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

Sailing yacht KARUBA 5 - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

As they were yesterday, Jorge Ramos’s (San Juan, PR) Hobie 16 Universal and John Holmberg’s (St. Thomas) Hobie 16 Time Out are tied on point scores after six races today, with Universal claiming the lead due to tie-breaker rules. Today’s anticipated two races in this class should be nail biters as they determine the final winner. This was the first time that the Beach Cats strayed from doing the same second-day racing as the IRC and CSA classes, and the challenge of short courses in catamarans was magnified by Sunday’s shifty 10-12 knots in the choppy Great Bay arena. “The races lasted only 20-30 minutes each,” said Ramos’s crew Jose Mattei. “In such short races, you don’t have too much time to recover.”

In CSA non-spinnaker class, the J/36 Cayennita Grande, which was in second on Saturday, found itself at the top of the scoreboard on Sunday. It was by no accident, however, said Tony Sanpere (St. Croix, USVI), even though he is helping the boat’s next owner Stan Jones (also St. Croix) get used to the boat and training Jones’s crew of West Indian high school students in the fine art of sailing the “Cayennita way.” “I yelled at them a little, but I yell at myself, too,” said Sanpere said with a chuckle. “Repetition over two long races today helped in their boat handling; I promised them a podium position, and we can do that.”

Racing concludes today and will be followed by the Rolex Awards party where prizes in all classes will be given and Rolex watches awarded to winners of IRC, CSA 1 and 2 and IC 24 classes.

International Rolex Regatta 2012: An Energetic Outing to Town and Back

March 26, 2012

The three-day International Rolex Regatta started on Saturday, March 24 with “town races” that took sailors from the east end of the beautiful Caribbean island – St. Thomas, where host St. Thomas Yacht Club is situated, to Charlotte Amalie, the island’s capital city.

Preparing for the start of the International Rolex Regatta 2012 Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

Preparing for the start of the International Rolex Regatta 2012 - Photo by Rolex /Ingrid Abery

Once there, the fleet of 68 yachts, divided into six classes, turned around and headed back, but only after sharing some colorful action with tourists on the downtown waterfront and on two cruise ships in port as well as fans perched at different vantage points along the route. Gray clouds mingled with white all day, giving tacticians as much cause to look upward to anticipate wind shifts as they did downward to read the play of the sapphire blue Caribbean Sea beneath them.

“Both of the races today were very different from each other,” said Tony Rey (Newport, R.I.), tactician aboard Peter Cunningham’s (George Town, CAY) PowerPlay, which finished 1-2 today to edge out Willem Wester’s (Breskens, Zeeland, NED) Antilope, which posted a 3-1. “We owe 11 ½ minutes to Antilope in an hour of racing, so it’s not easy to beat them, but we love planing, and 8-10 minutes into the first leg of the first race, a storm cloud came and we were off and running. That’s how we got ahead — it was 16-18 knots for a while, and Peter did a fantastic job of driving.”

BUDGET MARINE/GILL, first after day one in Division CSA 1 Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

BUDGET MARINE/GILL, first after day one in Division CSA 1 - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

Rey explained that in the second race the wind laid down. It was then that Antilope, the heavier displacement boat, had the advantage. Bill Alcott’s (St. Clair Shores, Mich.) 65-footer Equation took line honors in both races and corrected out to third overall. Equation’s navigator Chris Clark (Detroit) was happy with the outcome, saying that the crew had been sailing together a long time but not on this particular boat, which Alcott only recently bought. “We are gaining confidence,” said Clark, “but the hard thing really is the boat draws 16 ½ feet, which is a lot. Today around one of the islands, we were about 500 feet away from it; even in Charlotte Amalie Harbour we had to be careful — it’s hard to find the sweet spot for us on the course.”

Sailing yacht EQUATION Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

Sailing yacht EQUATION - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

A disappointment to all in this class was the dismasting of Lord Irvine Laidlaw of Rothiemay’s (MON) IRC 52 Highland Fling XII after a port spreader apparently failed. “It happened about five miles into the race after the first turning mark,” said Michael Giles (SA), the boat’s trimmer. “We had made some modifications after racing in Key West, and we were very happy because we knew they were the right changes. We were 100% sure we were winning, so it was unfortunate that it did come down.” With no way to repair the rig before the end of the regatta, the boat is out for the count.

“It’s absolutely a shame for a lot of reasons,” said PowerPlay’s Rey. “We were having a great race with them at the time when we heard a loud bang. She was a benchmark for us, and we were keen to see how we compared.” CSA racing boats (three classes), one-design IC 24s, and Beach Cats also joined in today’s town races, with the IC 24s adding a third race afterwards.

Yacht POWERPLAY, 1st after Day 1 in Division IRC 1 Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

Yacht POWERPLAY, 1st after Day 1 in Division IRC 1 - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

“We actually had to take our spinnaker down in the first race,” said Latitude 38’s 18-year-old Nikki Barnes, who, with one of her all-girl crewmembers here (Augustina Barbuto, age 16) won a bronze medal for the Virgin Islands at last summer’s ISAF Youth Championships (in international 420s). “There were a lot of boats broaching in our (IC 24) class.” Though currently in 12th, Barnes says her experience in dinghy racing will serve her well over the next two days of racing, when the class will sail up to 14 more races. “We made so many mistakes in the long races; we are well practiced in short-course racing, and we will be so much better at that.”

Currently leading the IC 24s is Carlos Sierra’s (Guaynabo, PR) Banana Boat/Fuataka.

Yachts MAGNITUDE 400 and BLADE in downtown Charlotte Amalie Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

Yachts MAGNITUDE 400 and BLADE in downtown Charlotte Amalie - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

Another young team of West Indian high school and sailing students is competing in CSA non-spinnaker class and currently sitting in second overall. They are led by Central High School (St. Croix) teacher Stan Jones aboard Tony Sanpere’s (St. Croix) J/36 Cayennita Grande, which has won this class several times. Jack Desmond’s (Marion, Mass.) Swan 48 Affinity posted a 1-2 today to Cayennita Grande’s 3-1 to take the lead in the seven-boat class.

Jorge Ramos’s Hobie 16 Universal leads the Beach Cats, while Andrea Scarabelli’s (Cole Bay, St. Maarten) Melges 24 Budget Marine/GILL and Jaime Torres’s (San Juan, PR) Beneteau First 40 Smile and Wave are leading CSA 1 and CSA 2, respectively.

BANANA BOATFUATAKA, first after day one in division IC 24 photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

BANANA BOATFUATAKA, first after day one in division IC 24 - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

Racing continued on Sunday with all classes but the IC 24s racing within viewing distance of St. John’s south shore.

America’s Cup streamlines and re-organises staff

March 26, 2012

America’s Cup organizers announced on Friday, March 23 that the agreement on the verge of being finalized with the City of San Francisco will bring organizational changes as well as staff reductions at the America’s Cup Event Authority, the commercial arm of the sport, due in part to downsizing of the event footprint in San Francisco.

34th America´s Cup

34th America´s Cup

The reductions will impact 14 in San Francisco and another 14 staff at other offices around the world.

“These individuals have been valued members of our team since the start of the Event Authority and have made many valuable contributions to our organization, and we wish them all of the best in their future endeavors,” said Stephen Barclay, Interim CEO, America’s Cup Event Authority. He said severance packages were in place for the departing employees who were informed of the decision of staff reductions today.

“We must ensure that our expenses match revenues. We made these changes to create efficiencies necessary to ensure that we deliver an exciting and important event for both the world of competitive sailing and San Francisco,” Barclay added.

He said the America’s Cup Event Authority was pleased it had reached a new agreement with the City of San Francisco, and hopes the Supervisors affirm the Agreement next Tuesday. The financial package is “not what we had anticipated or planned for but we are moving forward because this sailing event will be fantastic for the teams, sailors around the world and all San Francisco.”

Racing is set to kick off this year with the America’s Cup World Series events the first of which will be in Naples, Italy in April 11-15th followed by events in Venice, Italy (May) and Newport, Rhode Island (June).